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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
Join the shy but brave mouse Bernard and his glamorous partner Miss Bianca-two tiny heroes on a great big mission to save Penny, a young girl who has sent an urgent call for help! Taking off on the wings of the Albatross Orville, together they soar to the marshy swamp of Devil's Bayou. There, they find themselves on the riverboat hideout of the hilariously evil Madame Medusa, who wants to use Penny to steal the world's largest diamond!

Director:
John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens
Cast:
Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Joe Flynn, Jeanette Nolan, Pat Buttram, Jim Jordan
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
Two tiny mice, one big adventure!

MPAA:
Rated G.

Academy Awards:
Nominated for Best Song-"Someone's Waiting For You".

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/21/2012

Available as Part of Two-Movie Collection

Bonus:
• “Peoplitis” Deleted Song
• “Three Blind Mouseketeers” Silly Symphonies Animated Short
• “Water Birds – A Walt Disney True Life Adventure”
• “Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing Along Song
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] (1977)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 16, 2012)

Disney put out three films with animation in them during 1977: The Rescuers, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Pete’s Dragon. Only the first one provided a traditional single-narrative cartoon. Dragon mostly featured live action and boasted only one animated character; while that participant was vital to the film, it was still essentially a non-animated piece. Pooh was fully animated, but it presented a loosely linked collection that concentrated on previously released shorts.

Logically, Rescuers should be the best of the bunch, as it represented the closest connection to the studio’s animated feature roots. The studio produced only three full-length cartoons in the Seventies: Rescuers, 1973’s Robin Hood and 1970’s The Aristocats. Unfortunately, none of them remotely compared to Disney’s classics.

In fact, the entire batch qualifies as some of the studio’s worst-ever work, and The Rescuers arguably merits discussion as their crummiest release of all time. Adapted from Margery Sharp’s novel, Rescuers starts with a quick introduction to a young girl we’ll later get to know as Penny (voiced by Michelle Stacy). Stuck on a river in the middle of nowhere, she drops a bottle with a “help” note in it into the water.

Eventually this message ends up in New York City, where some mice obtain it. The film then relocates to the United Nations Building, where we discover the operations of the rodent-run Rescue Aid Society in that structure’s nether regions. We get to know two mice by name: mild-mannered and superstitious janitor Bernard (Bob Newhart) and glamorous Society agent Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor). Bianca requests the assignment to find Penny, and when Bernard voices concerns about her safety, she chooses him to accompany her.

Reluctantly he agrees, and the pair go to the Morningside Orphanage, which is where Penny used to live. A cat named Rufus (John McIntire) relates that Penny apparently ran away from the place. He points some suspicions toward a local pawn shop run by Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page), however, and the mice observe her as she talks by phone to her assistant Mr. Snoops (Joe Flynn). He has Penny with him in a remote location called the Devil’s Bayou.

Due to her dissatisfaction with Snoops’ handling of Penny, Medusa heads down to the Bayou and the mice try to stow away in her suitcase. However, they fall out along the way, so they need to catch a flight on Albatross Air with pilot/vehicle Orville (Jim Jordan). When they arrive, they meet some local poor rodent trash, Medusa’s pet alligators Brutus and Nero, and a helpful mosquito named Evinrude (James MacDonald), who acts as an outboard motor to transport the mice.

The investigators find out that Medusa’s using Penny to find an extremely valuable diamond called the Devil’s Eye. It’s located in a narrow cave, so Medusa needs someone tiny to retrieve it. The rest of the film follows their attempts to save Penny and deal with Medusa.

At its heart, The Rescuers has a lot of potential. The inherent story seems unusual and intriguing, and the focus on mice as secret agents appears fun and creative. With a talented actor like Newhart as the lead, the film should have been quite enjoyable.

Unfortunately, Disney’s Seventies doldrums infected The Rescuers and turned it into one of the blandest flicks I’ve ever seen, though the movie doesn’t come across as a total loss. Evinrude offers a witty and effective character, and the scene in which Medusa’s alligators try to blow the mice out of an organ shows some wit and inventiveness.

Unfortunately, those elements are few and far between in this dull and formulaic tale. The Rescuers rarely seems bad as much as it appears flat and uninspired. The animation generally looks more awkward and stiff than I expect from Disney’s feature films; it never approaches the flaws of their TV or direct-to-video fare, but it definitely doesn’t live up to their usual standards.

While most of the animation comes across as somewhat too restrained and without flair, the exception stems from Medusa. Apparently the artists devoted all their time to her, as she displays ridiculously exaggerated elements of activity. Medusa moves constantly and seems badly over-animated. The character is nothing more than a variation on Cruella DeVil anyway, and these wild shenanigans do nothing to make her more vivid or interesting.

Add to that a blandly executed story and possibly the wimpiest music ever attached to a Disney animated flick and The Rescuers falls flat. I can’t honestly say I hate the movie, for it simply doesn’t merit that level of passion. As a fan of Disney animation, I wanted to like The Rescuers, but this boring and timid story leaves me almost totally cold.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B / Audio C+/ Bonus C-

The Rescuers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While the image could be erratic, I suspect most of the concerns related to the source.

Sharpness usually came across as reasonably concise and distinctive. However, a few scenes looked a little soft; most of these came early in the film at the UN/Rescue Aid Society, but a few other slightly fuzzy elements appeared as well. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the image was accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and the presentation lacked edge haloes. No source flaws materialized either; when we saw marks, they stemmed from iffy clean-up animation.

For the most part, colors came across as reasonably lively and precise. Most of the hues were vibrant and dynamic, as only a few scenes showed slightly mushy tones; these were rare n a movie dominated with perky colors. Black levels were deep and rich, and shadows appeared fine. A few elements came across as a smidgen dense, but those were rare. Though this wasn’t a dazzling animated presentation, it was at least a “B” and bordered on “B+” territory.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Rescuers showed its age. Despite the extension of the multiple channels, the mix largely remained monaural. Music demonstrated the greatest expansion, as the score offered general spread to the sides and the rear. However, stereo imaging seemed somewhat weak and blobby, as the musical delineation lacked definition. The same went for effects. On the few occasions when elements popped up outside of the center, they sounded vague and artificial.

Audio quality was acceptable but erratic. Speech appeared acceptably distinct but lacked much warmth, as the dialogue was somewhat thin. Music was acceptable for its age. The score and songs failed to deliver much vivacity, but they showed decent clarity. Effects were average; they displayed mediocre definition, and low-end tended to be a little boomy. For a track from 1977, this was a passable piece but no better than that.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the 2003 DVD release? Audio was a bit warmer and fuller, but don’t expect big improvements in that domain. On the other hand, visuals showed a strong step up, as the Blu-ray was significantly cleaner, tighter and more vivid. The picture worked much better here than on the DVD.

The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras and adds one new one: a Deleted Song called “Peoplitis”. Including an intro from animator Ron Clements, it runs four minutes, 41 seconds and shows a zoo-based sequence that features a bear performed by Louis Prima, the singer who played King Louie in The Jungle Book. We hear the song accompanied by storyboards.

It’s not a terrible track, but it’s pretty peppy in the “I Wanna Be Like You” vein and would’ve seemed radically out of place in the relentlessly dreary Rescuers. Granted, you might think I’d want this moment of levity in such a restrained movie, but “Peoplitis” feels like something from an entirely different film; it wouldn’t have worked.

Water Birds provides a “Walt Disney True Life Adventure” from 1952 that lasts 30 minutes and 42 seconds. An Oscar winner for Best Short Subject, Birds offers a nature documentary that features lots of shots of the title subjects. It comes with narration and music but no attempts to force a plot or anything like that. Birds is a fairly entertaining program and a nice addition to the disc.

Next we find a 1936 “Silly Symphonies” short called Three Blind Mousketeers. The eight-minute and 46-second cartoon follows the titular heroes and the attempts of a fat cat who desires to slay the rodents. Fairly cute and charming, Mousketeers provides a pretty good short that seems more compelling than the feature film on this disc.

We also get a Sing-Along Song for “Someone’s Waiting For You”. This occupies two minutes, 13 seconds and shows text lyrics that go from white to yellow to help you croon along with it. Have fun!

As the disc starts, we encounter ads for Cinderella and Finding Nemo. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Disney Parks, Secret of the Wings, Planes, The Aristocats and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3. No trailer for Rescuers shows up here.

The package also includes a DVD Copy of Rescuers. This gives us a full retail version with a handful of extras.

One of the weakest animated feature films ever created by the Disney studios, The Rescuers lacks much charm or energy. Instead, it seems eminently forgettable due to its blandness. The Blu-ray provides good visuals, acceptable audio and a few mediocre supplements. This becomes easily the best home video version of a dull movie.

Note that Rescuers can be purchased only as part of a two-movie collection. The Blu-ray also comes with the 1990 sequel Rescuers Down Under as well as DVD copies of both films.

To rate this film visit the original review of THE RESCUERS

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